'F*** Nazis You Are Not Welcome Here' sign hanging in window of UMass Amherst dorm sparks controversy

Emotions are heightened at the University of Massachusetts Amherst just days after one of the university’s residence directors emailed a student to request the removal of a “F*** Nazis” sign that had been hung in a dormitory window. After students accused resident hall staff of being “Nazi sympathizers,” the university released a statement granting permission to reinstate the sign.

The incident came to light on Dec. 19 when a student at UMass Amherst tweeted an email sent to an on-campus classmate by residence director Eddie Papazoni. Papazoni said he was reacting to a phone call from someone concerned about the handwritten anti-Nazi sign that could be seen from the ground below.

“From this conversation it appears to be that the sign in mention can be paraphrase as; ‘Nazis are not welcome here,'” Papazoni wrote. “Though this sign is permitted under Freedom of Speech, I would also like to discuss the impact on the community that this sign has had.” He continued that the sign has created for students and faculty “mixed emotions on how to proceed, issues of inclusion, and the ability to be active members of their community.”

He wrote in the email that some are calling for removal of the sign, and ultimately concluded, “While Residence Education cannot force you or your roommate to take the sign down, I am asking you or your roommate take the sign down so that all students can be part of an inclusive residential experience, as well as having a respectful environment to be part of here on our campus.”

The student who tweeted Papazoni’s note wrote, “Nazis don’t deserve a place here on campus, in the U.S., and in this world. They don’t deserve the air in their lungs.” Then he referred to recent incidents of “white supremacy and neo-nazis on campus,” which he called “absolutely terrifying.”

In total, 19 hate crimes have been reported at UMass Amherst since mid-September, according to Boston.com.

Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to Papazoni for comment, but he was out of the office. Instead, Ed Blaguszewski, executive director of strategic communications at UMass Amherst, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “UMass Amherst emphatically rejects anti-Semitism, racism and all forms of bigotry, including Nazism, a view expressed in the students’ sign, which was displayed in a residence hall window. An email from a university employee to the student requesting that she take down the sign should never have been sent and does not represent the university’s values. The university respects the students’ right to  display the sign.”

Related: Anti-Semitic fliers at UC Davis:

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Representatives for UMass Amherst also responded to the situation in a statement shared on Facebook Dec. 20. In it, they distanced themselves from the email sent by Papazoni and condemned hate groups. “A poorly worded email from Residence Life staff asking students to take down the sign does not reflect the values of the campus, and it should not have been sent,” the statement reads. “UMass Amherst emphatically rejects Nazis, and any other hate group, a view expressed in the students’ sign.”

They concluded by giving students their blessing to hang the sign, however, the statement noted, “we are sensitive to the use of profanity, which some could find inappropriate.”

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